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January 9, 2010

Ranma no… Baka Baka Baka Baka Baka Baka Baka Baka Baka Baka Baka Baka Baka Baka Baka Baka Baka Baka Baka Baka Baka Baka Baka Baka!

Baka to Test to Shokanju aka Idiots and Tests and Summoned Beings oh my!

Probably the most surprising thing about this anime is that it’s surprisingly decent. I wouldn’t go ahead and recommend that you follow this show, but its probably worth watching a couple eps to see where it goes.

So whassit about? On the surface, it looks to be a harem gag anime, and it may well turn out that way for all we know. And unfortunately, that’s kinda how it starts too, as we’re introduced to the cast and crew of the show, with some emphasis on the main character being more competent than he seems. A legendary “Punishment Inspector” even. Blah blah blah, it’s all pretty generic seeming, until we hit about the halfway mark, at which point…

Anyone remember Kujibiki Unbalance? The show within a show for Genshiken, as well as a full fledged anime in and of itself. Well, Kujian (Kujibiki Unbalance) sucked mightily, but Baka to Test to Shokanju basically does it right. Like Kujian, the premise is that the school has some weird battle rules that’ll let you improve your lot in life. While Class A has state of the art facilities and a nurturing learning environment, while Class F is positively derelict. To rise from the depths of destitution, students in a class can summon chibified versions of themselves to do battle against other classes. Winner take all.

The process is simple, first challenge another class to battle, then kidnap a teacher corresponding to the subject you’re good at. Your chibi avatar’s stats are based on your test scores, so if your class has lots of people good at math, you’ll want to kidnap the math teacher. He’ll then initiate the battle between classes, and the class whose Representative/Monitor is slain will be declared the loser. The LOSER. Who would then have their rights of humanity revoked/lowered. To be ridiculed and humiliated for all the centuries of all the millennium throughout human history and destiny. *ahem*

Anywho, students can also recover HP during battle by leaving the battlefield and taking tests in the relevant subject(s). It’s all very organized mayhem.

What makes this work are the little things. There’s the RPG elements to the battles of course, which are cute. But things like the weather stats, such as the temperature and humidity, help to add a lot of quirky charm to the battles. But what allows this first ep battle to be pretty decent is that there’s actually some strategy involved, as devised by the representative of Class F, as well as the revelation as to the true nature of the main character, which I will now spoil, because it’s pretty obvious from the series title. Basically, he’s an idiot. I mean, he’s your typical idiot ball carrying main character, but they managed to make this fact relevant to what passes as the plot for this pilot episode.

Oh, and the trap’s transformation sequence rocks. It’s totally Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha style, and the lyrics for the end theme are pretty neat too. Like, the singer laments that he has to stay behind for extra lessons, which sucks, but deep down he realizes, he really IS that stupid; that for years, he thought the “Monthly Parking” in parking lots was the name of the company that owns the lot.

All in all, this is a decent show thus far. I hope they’ll have more battles and strategems and manipulations. I hope it won’t devolve into Nyan Koi and that the Class F Rep continues to make things interesting. I doubt this show will become awesome like Kamen no Maid Guy, but hopefully it won’t suck and it’ll be a decent watch. At least for a few eps.

Till then, we shall see.

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